“The time came to observe the winter Feast of Renewal in Jerusalem. Jesus walked into the temple area under Solomon’s covered walkway when the Jewish leaders encircled him and said, “How much longer will you keep us in suspense? Tell us the truth and clarify this for us once and for all. Are you really the Messiah, the Anointed One?” Jesus answered the, “I have told you the truth already and you do not believe me.
The proof of who I am is revealed by all the miracles that I do in the name of my Father.” (John 10:22-25, The Passion Translation).
“Rescue us every time we face tribulation and set us free from the evil. For you are the King who rules with power and glory forever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:13, The Passion Translation)
THE BEAUTY OF HANUKAH
During traditional winters, in the depths of December which is also the Hebrew month of Kislev,, and often near Christmas, the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, many Christians and Messianic Jews who consider the Hebrew calendar as God's prophetic calendar, can be found lighting an eight-flamed menorah to commemorate Hanukah/Chanukah.
The feast, known also as the Festival of Lights, annually celebrates the miracle of a lamp being lit by a continuous flow of pure olive oil within the Maccabean Temple once the temple was rescued from the Syrian-Greek army and rededicated to God in 186 B.C.
A key hallmark of Hanukah also includes the annual re-telling of the legend of a God-fearing Maccabean heroine named Judith (Jdt 8:6-8), a stunning widow and daughter of a Hasmonean priest whose exceptional sense of stratagem led to the defeat the Assyrian army.
Now I can imagine some of you asking why the Hebraic legend of Judith important knowledge and worthy of being written about. If that's you, read on.
Due to the centuries of debate regarding the historicity of the Judith legend, many contemporary Christian women know nothing of it. To date, the story has been relegated to the Septuagint, the Apocrypha’s Book of Judith, and other extra-biblical documents studied predominantly by Christians engaged in study of the Hebrew roots of Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, and Messianic Judaism. And particularly during the Hanukah season.
A Wikipedia entry on the Book of Judith also indicates that some scholars even believe the Judith legend is a “parable of the first historical novel” to have been written. Still, the story is so popular it has spurred considerable study as a predecessor story and parallel to that of Jael and her victory over the Canaanite general, Sisera, in the book of Judges.
Has the legend of Judith peaked your interest yet? If so, to follow is the story in a “proverbial nutshell.”
THE LEGEND OF JUDITH
According to the legend and the literature, during the second century, BCE, Nebuchadnezzar’s army led by the evil General Holofernes, wage siege against Bethulia, a town some scholars consider to be a pseudonym for Shechem. If felled by Assyria, the overtaken town would serve as the gateway to give Nebuchadnezzar control over Jerusalem.
However, Judith, a respected community leader, was so concerned about the siege, she entered into a season of fasting and prayer so that God would give her a strategy for delivering the town from Holofernes and his forces. (Jdt 13:7).
Consequently, the legend says that Judith, after praying for God’s strength, takes food and wine into Holofernes tent and gets him so drunk, she’s able to decapitate him with his own sword. (Jdt. 13:8). Her feat is so surprising and daunting to the Assyrian army, the Israelite army is positioned in return to wage siege against Assyria and utterly defeat them.
JUDITH AND JESUS, AGENTS OF SUBVERSIVE SPIRITUAL WARFARE
In the scripture passage at the lead of this article, we find Jesus confronting his Hebrew detractors while standing in the expansive colonnade and worship center that is Solomon’s Porch, the same site where the healing of the lame man would take place during the book of Acts.
However, the fact that I find most fascinating about this scripture passage is that Jesus, during Hanukah, perhaps unbeknownst to Himself at the time, was engaged in an act of subversive spiritual warfare during Kislev during Hanukah season, just as Judith was. Her wintry footsteps, entwined with His before the foundation of the world. They also planted themselves against Holofernes, the evil detractor of her day. That being the case, we can now explore the multi-faceted answer the question posed earlier: What can a contemporary Christian woman learn from the Judith legend?
SEVEN PRACTICAL INSIGHT GLEANED FROM THE JUDITH LEGEND
· Learn to Understand Your Dreams - When your spiritual or natural winter is at its darkest, with Jesus, you can always dream again. Kislev is Hebrew culture is considered the month of dreams. It is also considered the month of visions.
Therefore, whenever you need to find God within a dark and cold season, one way a woman can set her dreams into motion is by asking the Lord to help her to understand the dreams she has while sleeping. Once she does this, the Lord can help her to identify the "revelation light" found in her dreams so that she can employ these "treasures" found in the darkness" when she is awake. “And God said, let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated light from darkness.” (Gen. 1:3-5).
· Stake Your Claim of the Territory God has given You- The person of Holofernes in the Judith legend represents the culture of worldly evil often spurred into motion by... But the healing culture of the Kingdom has the surest cure or medicine for this: the power of treading. Take it. “Look, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19).
When you engage in the act of treading or threshing the "ground or grounds" the Lord has given you as your "Canaan", with your feet, i.e. doing a "Jericho March" on or in or around the territory, or stamping your feet upon the territory as you pray into the release of promises for it, you are actually breaking up the territories fallow ground and imprinting the Kingdom into it three miles down into the earth.
· Employ "Now Faith" as a Spiritual Warfare Tool- Captivity seasons may come, but they come to pass. There is always the opportunity for captivity to break in your life if you’re a Believer because the Spirit of the Lord is upon you and you are one of God’s sent ones. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He anointed me… He has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives…” (Luke 4:18).
· Crucify Your Flesh- The hostility that Nebuchadnezzar, Holofernes, and the Assyrian army represented can enter your life if you open any door that encourages you to set your mind on your flesh. “… the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Rom. 8:7).
· Pray Without Ceasing- Judith was a wise, prayerful, and fasting woman. She mourned the pending condition of environment. During times of spiritual warfare in or outside of your home, God invites you to be and do the same. Your prayers are powerful. They can break through. “Thus, says the Lord of Hosts: Consider, and call for the mourning women to come; send for the skillful women to come” (Jer. 9:17).
· Honor and Protect Your Temple- The evil Holofernes displayed and championed can wreak havoc on a woman’s body as well as her current and future lifestyle if she chooses to embrace it. “Don’t you realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself” (1 Cor. 6:19).
· Clothe Yourself Properly- Judith was known for her stunning beauty born of righteousness. You can be known for the same. Be sure to adorn yourself in the following and you will be just as beautiful. “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God, for He has clothed me with garments of salvation.
He has wrapped me in a robe of righteousness… and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Is. 61:10).
SEVEN PROPHETIC DECLARATIONS TO SPEAK OVER YOURSELF
· I am a menorah of light. Darkness can’t overcome me. I bring the light of Jesus with me wherever I go.
· The walk Jesus has given me is a supernatural and subversive walk. Wherever I go, Jesus is with me. And wherever He is, Jesus always reigns.
· I am a prophetic and an apostolic woman.
I can see that I am God’s sent one. Where he leads, I follow. And I follow without hesitation.
· I refuse to entertain the ways of the flesh because I choose not to walk in ways of the flesh.
· My prayers are powerful. They carry the Breaker Anointing (Micah 2:13) in me. Jesus breaks open the way and always goes before me.
· My body belongs to the God. I will not abuse it. Nor will I let anyone else abuse it.
· My souls rejoices in God. He adorns me with love. He is my precious Bridegroom. I am His precious Bride.
A SEALING PRAYER
Father in the name of Jesus, I worship and adore you. Thank you for sharing with me the legend of Judith. Let me be as she was, a menorah of light. Let me help my community to conquer evil’s assault. But mostly, let me use my spiritual and natural gifts and talents to usher in your Kingdom wherever I go. For you are the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, Lord Jesus. Amen.